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Alex Truesdell
Alex Truesdell is seen at Adaptive Design Association in New York City on Thursday September 17, 2015. Adam Lerner / AP Images for Home Front Communications

The College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) is excited to be welcoming Alex Truesdell to Northeastern on April 4 as part of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series. She will deliver a public lecture at 11:45 a.m. on April 4, followed by a reception from 1:00-2:00 pm. Both events will take place at Fenway Center, 77 St. Stephen Street.

Alex Truesdell is the Executive Director and Founder of Adaptive Design Association (ADA) and a 2015 winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. ADA is an organization that envisions and builds low-tech, affordable tools and furniture that enable children with disabilities to participate actively in their homes, schools, and communities. The organization aims to bring makers and users together to build custom adaptations – from enlarging the handle on a hairbrush for someone with minimal grip, to modifying a cafeteria bench for wheelchairs, to customizing switches so someone with limited speech and mobility can enter Morse code into their smartphone and carry on live conversations. Through these adaptive design approaches, Truesdell challenges the assumption that “disability” means fixed limitations and instead suggests that limitations can be minimized, or even eliminated, with effective user-inspired adaptations.

Under Truesdell’s leadership, ADA’s construction processes have remained accessible and affordable, using common materials, such as corrugated cardboard and glue, to allow designers to prototype, build, and fit equipment on-site quickly and inexpensively. This approach showcases how the process of designing and constructing adaptive devices can be tangible and immediate. The result is low-cost, high-quality adaptive equipment that is unique, imaginative, and improving the lives of thousands of children while disrupting traditional approaches to assistive technologies.

Truesdell envisions a day when adaptive design has become an established resource in organizations worldwide, and conversations about difference and disability finally advance social evolution toward universal care and human achievement. Before founding ADA, Trusdell established the Assistive Device Center at the Perkins School for the Blind, in Boston, and in 2001, the Adaptive Design Association in New York City.

The Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series is organized by the College of Arts, Media and Design Office of the Dean, in collaboration with the Dean’s Research Fellows.